Category: Space


If the sun simply “turned off” (which is actually physically impossible), the Earth would stay warm-at least compared with the space surrounding it-for a few million years. But we surface dwellers would feel the chill much sooner than that.

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Within a week, the average global surface temperature would drop below 0°F. In a year, it would dip to -100°. The top layers of the oceans would freeze over, but in an apocalyptic irony, that ice would insulate the deep water below and prevent the oceans from freezing solid for hundreds of thousands of years. Millions of years after that, our planet would reach a stable -400°, the temperature at which the heat radiating from the planet’s core would equal the heat that the Earth radiates into space, explains David Stevenson, a professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology.

Although some microorganisms living in the Earth’s crust would survive, the majority of life would enjoy only a brief post-sun existence. Photosynthesis would halt immediately, and most plants would die in a few weeks. Large trees, however, could survive for several decades, thanks to slow metabolism and substantial sugar stores. With the food chain’s bottom tier knocked out, most animals would die off quickly, but scavengers picking over the dead remains could last until the cold killed them.

Humans could live in submarines in the deepest and warmest parts of the ocean, but a more attractive option might be nuclear- or geothermal-powered habitats. One good place to camp out: Iceland. The island nation already heats 87 percent of its homes using geothermal energy, and, says astronomy professor Eric Blackman of the University of Rochester, people could continue harnessing volcanic heat for hundreds of years.

Of course, the sun doesn’t merely heat the Earth; it also keeps the planet in orbit. If its mass suddenly disappeared (this is equally impossible, by the way), the planet would fly off, like a ball swung on a string and suddenly let go..

Good times ahead.

Ref: Pop Science

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Moon Express, a private ‘lunar commerce’ start-up, and the International Lunar Observatory Association, a non-profit devoted to moon observation, have teamed up to put the International Lunar Observatory, a 2-meter radio antenna, on the Moon to observe the galaxy without the interference of Earth’s atmosphere, which absorbs some kinds of radiation.

ILOA plans to start small, establishing a scientific presence on the Moon, and eventually move on to human exploration and settlement. A preliminary mission with a smaller telescope will launch in 2015.

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The full observatory, slated to arrive in 2016, would provide “scientific research, commercial broadcasting and [enable] Galaxy 21st Century education and “citizen science” on the Moon,” according to a press statement from the two organizations. Its access and controls will be available via the Internet to the general public, as well as researchers.

Moon Express will also send a small rover to prospect for resources, including metals, minerals and water, that could be extracted from the lunar surface and one day sold on Earth.

According to Moore’s law it shouldn’t be long until they have the ability to open up a soda plant using local water – watch this space.

Ref – Wired

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Cancer researchers looking for a breakthrough might want to relocate to the International Space Station. Biologists have found that microgravity research and other space-based experiments provide greater insight into abnormal cell behavior.

In Earth-bound labs, cells grow flat, unable to fully mimic the three-dimensional architecture shaped by proteins and carbohydrates of a working human organ. This gap provides an obstacle for scientists studying changes in cell growth and development.

In space, cells clump together easily, arranging themselves into three-dimensional groupings that better replicate cell activity. They also experience less fluid shear stress, a type of disturbance that affects their behavior outside of the body.

Many of the cells in space will likely die due to a lack of blood vessels providing necessary oxygen and nutrients. That might seem like a disadvantage, but it actually resembles the condition of tumors with areas of dead tissue at their centers, biologists say.

While the unique physical conditions of space have proven apt, research on Earth is also making headway with the construction of 3-D cell structures using a collagen gel matrix. Combined with microgravity studies, such research advances could greatly help biologists understand the cellular changes that lead to cancer and develop ways to prevent them.

A few years back, scientists discovered a giant cloud of hooch floating around in space. The 288 billion-mile cloud of gaseous methanol, an alcohol present in antifreeze and some moonshine presented a conundrum: How do alcohols, which are fairly complex organic molecules, form in space.
In the vast expanse of interstellar space, temperatures are so low that chemical reactions shouldn’t be able to occur, following the classic rules of chemistry – there’s just not enough energy. Yet they do occur, and with an even faster reaction rate than at room temperature, according to a study online in Nature Chemistry this week. These impossible reactions can be explained through a phenomenon called quantum tunneling, the authors theorize.

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As temperatures plummet, chemical reactions slow down, as there is less energy and fewer collisions between molecules to rearrange chemical bonds. But, according to the team of chemists from the University of Leeds in the UK, some reactions might skirt the classical rules of chemical reactions through quantum tunnelling, a process in which a particle wiggles through the reaction barrier (the energy required to start a reaction) even when technically it doesn’t have enough energy to overcome it.

Heard and his colleagues plan to study how other alcoholic reactions occur in the extreme cold. “If our results continue to show a similar increase in the reaction rate at very cold temperatures, then scientists have been severely underestimating the rates of formation and destruction of complex molecules, such as alcohols, in space.

All I know is that any omnipotent being that creates a Universe so he/she can brew moonshine is alright in my books…

Ref: PopScience

The TARDIS, a time- and space-traversing, police-box-shaped ship from the long-running sci-fi TV show Doctor Who, is really heading into orbit

220px-TARDIS2 The Tardis had seen better days…

This November is the 50th (50th) anniversary of Who, and to celebrate, a father-daughter pair built a tiny TARDIS-replica satellite. In May, they sought $33,000 on Kickstarter to launch of the satellite. They plan to strap the satellite onto a rocket and drop it into Low Earth Orbit. It’s loaded with a camera for snapping shots of the Earth below, along with a hard drive, so backers can send a small amount of data on board.

The project may sound a little optimistic, but it’s probably doable. We’ve seen CubeSats, which are small, cheap-to-produce boxes that get strapped on to rockets. Once CubeSats get high enough, they fall off the mothership and into orbit. The TARDIS’s creators don’t specify the launch plan for their project except to say the TARDIS will be strapped to someone else’s payload – so the setup might be similar to that of CubeSats.

I can’t wait to see their next project where they plan to distort space and time…

Ref: PopSci

 

A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive. His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks — and all without violating Einstein’s law of relativity.

The idea came to White while he was considering a rather remarkable equation formulated by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. In his 1994 paper titled, “The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity,”
 
Alcubierre suggested a mechanism by which space-time could be “warped” both in front of and behind a spacecraft.
 
Michio Kaku dubbed Alcubierre’s notion a “passport to the universe.” It takes advantage of a quirk in the cosmological code that allows for the expansion and contraction of space-time, and could allow for hyper-fast travel between interstellar destinations.
 
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Which is great news when you consider that recent research has effectively doubled the estimated number of life-friendly planets in orbit around red dwarfs. And remarkably, the astronomers attribute the revised figure to the presence of clouds.
 
Astronomers theorize that red dwarfs, which make up 75% of all main sequence stars in our galaxy, feature circumstellar habitable zones (HZ) that are considerably more interior than those of G stars (of which our sun is one). And in fact, owing to the low energy output of these stars, their HZs are about as close as Mercury is to our sun. But it’s within these sweet spots that water can remain in its liquid state — an important precursor to life.
 
So with the advent of NASA’s (theoretical) warp drive we may be heading out on our five year mission to offend alien species before we know it…

For those of you younger than myself you may not know what the USS Enterprise is. (shock!)

Essentially in our future there’s a bunch of Space Cowboys who travel the Galaxy, offend alien species and explore nooks and crannies in the hope of spreading the Federations words of peace and tranquility… while destroying aliens.

Although Star Trek was a fantastic show it’s all been fantasy up until now, a website called Buildtheenterprise.org has proposed a hundred year road map for space exploration and believes that we can build a fully functioning Enterprise with technology we currently have on hand.

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When you consider that the ISS will probably cost over 100 Billion dollars to maintain alone during it’s lifetime it really does make sense to start looking beyond one shot trips to Mars and the Moon and build something much more sustainable and relevant. The enterprise would be used as an exploratory star ship, a space port and international meeting place.

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Image credit – Deviat Art

In ranked order of importance, the Gen1 Enterprise’s top eight functions are:

  1. Inspire people around the world about the adventure of humans going into space in a big way.
  2. Serve as a space station & spaceport with 1g artificial gravity to support large-scale space tourism and to encourage substantial private sector investments in space infrastructure.
  3. Take the first humans to Mars.
  4. Enable the construction of a large, permanent base on Mars.
  5. Visit an asteroid, do experimental mining of it, and do tests to divert its movement.
  6. Construct a large, permanent base on the moon.
  7. Serve as a roving space station to support diverse scientific experiments and space projects.
  8. Go on other interplanetary missions, like to Venus and to Jupiter’s moons.

Personally I find this very exciting and if I earned the GDP of a small nation I would be funding this myself right now.!

for more information visit http://www.buildtheenterprise.org/

Mars One is a non-profit organization that’s aiming to send you to Mars within ten years.

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The entire process will be broadcast on television, just like an extra terrestrial version of Big Brother. Mars One says that all of the technology needed to build a habitat and touch people down on Big Red already exists, and at a small initial cost of $6 Billion we would be silly not to.! However..

There might be slight hiccups. “There’s no liquid water, the atmospheric pressure is “practically a vacuum”, radiation levels are higher and temperatures vary wildly” However scientists at ASRC Aerospace Corporation at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center are currently working on a force field to help shield would be contentants.. *ahem* Astronauts from deadly radiation.

The living quarters would be built via 3d printing and deployed by robots to ensure the new inhabitants have some time to relax and grab a great tan.

If you are interested in applying to the Mars one program to be packed up and sent off to the Red Planet you can apply on the Mars One website http://applicants.mars-one.com/.

However be warned, it’s a one way ticket to Mars..